Kabul, Afghanistan, 20 February, 2019 -- In partnership with Blockchain Learning Group, a Canadian-based Blockchain company that provides education and acceleration programs globally, UNDP Afghanistan brought together over 100 technology enthusiasts and socially conscious young people for a citizen-centered ‘Hack4Integrity’ hackathon in Kabul. A hackathon is an event where technology specialists and other experts collaborate to develop innovative solutions that address a specific issue.
In the Hack4Integrity event, 19 teams of young people from Kabul, Helmand, and Herat provinces competed to design prototypes for technology-based solutions to combat corruption in Afghanistan. The event began on Sunday, February 17th, 2019 in Kabul, and wrapped up on February 20th when the tech solutions were presented to judges and winners were announced.
US$ 30,000 in prize money was distributed amongst the winning teams in the form of grants, to continue the development of the solutions. Technical support will also be provided to help the winners develop their projects. UNDP will assist the winning teams along to work with the Government of Afghanistan to ensure that their ideas are brought to realization.
The teams were evaluated on a set of criteria shared with them in advance by a panel of jury: Yama Torabi, Head, Secretariat of the High Office on Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption; H.E. Nicolaj A. Hejberg Peterson, Ambassador of Denmark; Ikram Afzali, Director, Integrity Watch Afghanistan; Ata Mohammad, IT Expert, Office of the Economic Advisor to H.E. the President; Chami Akmeemana, CEO, Blockchain Learning Group Inc., and Melanie Dubreuil, Acting Project Manager, Anti-Corruption Project Implementation Plan, UNDP.
The winning teams were:
- Freedom Coders, first prize, US$ 7,000 in grant
- Hackproof, second prize, US$ 7,000 in grant
- Tech Motto, third prize, US$ 7,000 in grant
- Green Arrow, fourth prize, US$ 4,500 in grant
- Mardom App, fifth prize, US$ 4,500 in grant
and the prizes were handed by Yama Torabi, Head of the Secretariat for the High Council on Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption.
Freedom coders won first prize with a web-based app to combat corruption within Universities. Private Universities are paper-based and therefore prohibitively unwieldy for effective audit and control, which has led to ghost students, fake diplomas, tax fraud and deterioration of competition.
The number of “ghost students” is estimated at 20,000. The Ministry of Finance loses an estimated 40% of potential tax revenue from fraud.
To resolve this issue the Freedom Coders have designed a web-based Information validation system which authenticates information and all sort of credentials. It is an Information Management System with strong anti-corruption features accessible remotely via a web-based secured portal.
“Corruption is not invincible; we can defeat it via the power of information sharing.” Samiullah Hamidee said, team leader of the Freedom Coders. “We focus on solving the problem rather than technology and the technical stuff.”
The event was opened by the Deputy Attorney General for Anti-Corruption, Khaja Abdul Haq Ahmadi, and Jocelyn Mason, Resident Representative of UNDP.
Jocelyn Mason remarked in his opening statement, “The people of Afghanistan, better than anyone, understand what corruption does to their daily life, how it impacts them in many ways. They are best placed to design solutions because they or their families experience it first-hand.”
Corruption is a major issue for Afghanistan and has caused the country billions of dollars in embezzlement of public funds and bribes paid to public servants, according to Transparency International. Although the ranking of the country in the global Corruption Perception Index has improved slightly compared to the last few years, it is still among the ten most corrupt countries globally, making the fight against corruption one of the highest priority for the government and its international partners.
Over the past few years, the Government of Afghanistan has advanced several major reforms on laws and policies and reshaped the institutional setting to enable a more efficient fight against corruption.
In the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANDPF),” Rooting out Corruption” is one of the five priorities identified to secure Afghanistan’s development by 2021. UNDP supports the Government of Afghanistan in its efforts to root out corruption with its Anti-Corruption project, which is currently in Project Initiation Plan (PIP) phase.